The Chinese education system, as witnessed by those who grew up through it

Courtesy of the author

Over the years, I’ve seen no shortage of American pundits singing the praises of China’s education system. They eyeball a few stray statistics and come away decrying the failures of the United States, then — after ritually condemning China as all the pundits must do — writing odes to the…

The next few years could be a pot of gold for a some and a trap for others

Courtesy of the author

In 2008, when I first lived in China, the country had a real Wild West feel to it. Enforcement of rules was very lax in many parts of the country, which led to an explosion of legally questionable businesses and an increase in certain types of corruption. …

The real treat was getting to witness their embarrassment

Photo by Colton Sturgeon on Unsplash

As a freewheeling adult, it’s easy to take for granted the simple right to go wherever you please. Take off the nostalgia goggles for a moment and childhood becomes a sequence of places you went against your will, dragged along by some grown-up or another.

If you were lucky, these…

Five vignettes on sleep and sleeplessness

Photo by Shane on Unsplash

When I was a child, I had what amounted to a very minor superpower: An all-natural alarm clock. I could decide to wake up any time I wanted, and I would. It wasn’t mechanically precise, of course, but for my purposes it did the trick.

As with many children, I…

Editorial feedback isn’t always as helpful as you’d hope

Photo by Joshua Sortino on Unsplash

I’ve been stepping back from speculative fiction after nearly five years of climbing a ladder without enough rungs, and let me tell you: It’s relaxing. When you’re doing something that’s just not working out, it is oh so nice when you at last get to step off that treadmill.


I get it, people suck. What else do you have?

Photo by Simone Pellegrini on Unsplash

I was recently looking at a submission page for a speculative market when something hopped out at me. It’s not unusual for these pages to list types of stories that the editors aren’t interested in reading. In this case, they were warning people not to send overly preachy stories. …

Flash fiction

Photo by Swag Photography on Unsplash

The clocks in the office all stopped working at precisely 2:41 and, by the reaction of the peons, you’d think that time had abandoned its endless march and lain down to rest for good and all. But then there always was a chance this might happen, at least in the…

Andrew Johnston

Writer of fiction, documentarian, currently stranded in Asia. Learn more at

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